MP Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was grilled by parliament’s National Security Committee today over allegations of an illegal oil trade worth US$800 million with Burma while the Mulaku MP was chairman of the State Trading Organisation (STO).
In the face of repeated questioning during today’s meeting, Yameen denied any involvement in “micro-management” of STO subsidiary companies during his time as chairman until 2005.
A resolution proposed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa to investigate the allegations was sent to the National Security Committee on August 2, which has since summoned and questioned senior STO officials.
Article 99 of the constitution grants parliamentary committees the power to “summon any person to appear before it to give evidence under oath, or to produce documents.”
The allegations first appeared in February this year in India’s The Week magazine in a cover story by Sumon K. Chakrabarti, Chief National Correspondent of CNN-IBN, who described Yameen as “the kingpin” of a scheme to buy subsidised oil through STO’s branch in Singapore and sell it through a joint venture called ‘Mocom Trading’ to the Burmese military junta, at a black market premium price.
“Sources in the Singapore Police said their investigation has confirmed ‘shipping fraud through the diversion of chartered vessels where oil cargo intended for the Maldives was sold on the black market creating a super profit for many years’,” the report added.
Referencing an unnamed Maldivian cabinet Minister, The Week stated that: “what is becoming clear is that oil tankers regularly left Singapore for the Maldives, but never arrived here.'”
The article drew heavily on an investigation report by international accountancy firm Grant Thornton, commissioned by the government in March 2010, which obtained three hard drives containing financial information of transactions from 2002 to 2008. No digital data was available before 2002, and the paper trail “was hazy”.
In 2004, investigators from accountancy firm KPMG found in an STO audit that Mocom Trading was set up in February that year as a joint venture between STO Singapore and a Malaysian company called ‘Mocom Corporation Sdn Bhd’, with the purpose of selling oil to Myanmar and an authorised capital of US$1 million.
According to The Week, the company had four shareholders: Kamal Bin Rashid, a Burmese national, two Maldivians: Fathimath Ashan and Sana Mansoor (employees of STO), and a Malaysian named Raja Abdul Rashid Bin Raja Badiozaman, who was the Chief of Intelligence for the Malaysian armed forces for seven years.
As well as the four shareholders, former Managing Director of STO Singapore, Ahmed Muneez, served as the director.
Malaysia’s Mocom Corporation was one of four companies with a tender to sell oil to the Burmese junta, alongside Daewoo, Petrocom Energy and Hyundai.
Muneez, Ashan and Sana have been questioned by the National Security Committee over the past two weeks.
At today’s committee meeting, Yameen maintained that chairmanship of the STO board was an “ex officio” (by right of office) post, and as the affairs of Mocom Trading was managed by the STO subsidiary company in Singapore, “it doesn’t reach the STO board in Male’.”
The STO chairman under the previous government was not an executive chairman who handled day-to-day management of the state-owned enterprise, Yameen explained, adding that appointing board members to subsidiaries was handled by the Managing Director.
“Yameen is the chairman of STO, Singapore STO’s chairman is Mohamed Hussein Manik, Mocom Singapore – its called Mocom Singapore because it was formed in Singapore – has a board, a chairman and MD,” he said. “So information about STO subsidiary companies and STO JVs (joint ventures), even if its run in the Maldives, does not come to the STO board.”
The STO board would not know of the dealings of companies such as Fuel Supply Maldives, which supplies oil to resorts and inhabited islands, “because each company is a legal entity and its board has full discretion to conduct any legal business as broadly as it wants.”
He added that “micro-management issues” of subsidiary companies were not dealt with by the STO board and the chairman “did not know and did not have to know”.
Asked by MDP MP Mohamed Thoriq if he believed Mocom Trading was formed illegally, Yameen said he did not know “even the date the company was formed” or Mocom’s board members.
Former STO Managing Director Manik had previously told the committee that he discovered Mocom’s existence when the issue came up at an annual general meeting.
Asked by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz if he visited Singapore on official trips on behalf of STO, Yameen said he never went to Singapore with the express purpose of evaluating STO Singapore.
Nashiz had said at last night’s meeting that the total value of STO’s oil trade amounted to over US$4 billion – or Rf61 billion – over the course of 14 years and six months “if the information [STO Singapore MD] Muneez gave us was accurate.”
Nashiz suggested that Muneez’s claim that he “made all the decisions on his own” was dubious.
DRP MP Rozaina Adam meanwhile noted today that testimony by STO MD Manik and STO Singapore MD Muneez “conflicted” as Manik insisted he was unaware of Mocom’s formation but Muneez said it was formed after the head office provided all the required legal documentation.
Manik had also revealed at the committee that Muneez’s annual bonus was withheld as a result of his role in forming the joint venture without a board resolution.
Asked by Rozaina if the MD had shared any concerns with the chairman, Yameen said he had not.
Yameen however said he found it “very hard to believe” that the MD or accounting section would have been unaware of the transactions with Mocom.
Moreover, Singapore had the strictest commercial laws in the region and the trade in question was conducted with “back-to-back LCs (lines of credit)” with “first-class banks,” said Yameen, making it difficult to siphon off money to a third party as it would require a letter with instructions to do so, which would have been noted as “highly unusual.”
Today’s meeting was disrupted at frequent intervals by shouting matches that broke out between MDP and the former president’s newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). MP Yameen, half-brother of Gayoom and long-serving Trade Minister in his cabinet, was elected by the PPM interim council as its parliamentary group leader.
29 thoughts on “MP Yameen questioned by National Security Committee over alleged illegal oil trade”
We all know what he said. I was watching.
What a sly fox.
Obvious truth is, that guy does not give a damn about the accusations made against him. Hell, he's just sitting there and had said the basic same thing, OVER, and OVER AGAIN!
"As the chairman.. I am not inclined to know any of that. I neither have the authority, right, no duty to oversee any of the company's operations."
What, if I may ask, was he doing as a chairman? As he says, his only job is to see if the monthly report is without flaw?
OOh, why Oh why didn't this guy see the loopholes in his own organization. $800 million is not a small amount that someone can just "poof" and it get's disappeared.
It's all an act. His lawyer obviously told him to state nothing more than, "I am the chairman, that is not my duty."
And the fox doesn't seem to be doing anything else than play with his mobile. Hell, this guy is smart.
If only he used that brain of his for the betterment of Maldives..
Insha Allah save us all from the old tiger and his brother the sly fox.. and the hyenas that live around them. May god rid us of them!
If this is how a Chairman runs a PLC, then I am totally disappointed. 400 million. Wagakah haas dhuvas, veriyakah eh dhuvas bune ulhey.
Couldn’t agree more. Allah protect us from Gayoom, Yaamin and his family , keep us safe. I believe he transcended a long time ago to the deep bowels of darkness. Utterly self absorbed, driven by his psychotic narcissistic personality, his hunger for power and greed knows no limits. I agree, he is very smart, shame all that intelligence wasted.
Isn't it amazing "Haveeru" Online don't give us this kind of access to video footage with regard to the family of Ex - first family.
Is the journalist in "Haveeru" are scared of their boss Dr. Zahir Hussein who in turn is a pussy cat of His Excellency Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who apparently offered the lady of the house for purification to Dr. Zahir Darling Hussein.
Stop harking and barking, next president of our beloved Maldives is going to be Mr. Yamin Abdul Gayoom.
It's sad to see the level of discourse in the Maldivian Democratic Party now.
Was it not their own President who blatantly claimed in front of all the media in the country that he is practically in bed with Dr. Mohamed Zahir Hussein? Was it only I who heard the plain-as-day statement by Mohamed Nasheed that Fuvahmulah airport would serve as a landing point for orchids brought from the island for sale by companies such as....ahem...Neel Orchids???
Is it not stark raving lunacy to ignore the fact Lubna Mohamed Zahir Hussein is a Deputy Minister in Nasheed's government? Is it not enough that journalists for hire such as Ahmed Hamdhoon cover far-flung claims made by Mustafa that he is more professional than a LSE Postgraduate?
Btw the grilling mentioned in the article was done by;
Mustafa - who also claimed that the measles vaccine administered worldwide is a virus created by Maumoon Abdul Qayyoom to decrease fertility in virile young women.
Madaveli Nazim - who thinks Burma is a person and who could not grill a burger without setting himself on fire.
So what if Yaameen is sly? Says a lot about his capabilities doesn't it? He seemed to me like a sane man battling against baseless rumors and retarded yes-men to the best of his capacity.
We would welcome his bid for the Presidency. The Maldives needs more focus on economic issues and less on grandstanding and boo-hooing about big bad judges bringing buddies to justice.
"Stop harking and barking, next president of our beloved Maldives is going to be Mr. Yamin Abdul Gayoom."
Over our dead bodies! No way Jose! Never ever again will anyone related to the Gayyoom clan come to power in this country.
Yameen deserves at least one thing; a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the most incompetent Chairman of an enterprise!
MN, I see that you have removed the news article on Maldives been absent in the UNESCO Palestine membership vote. Why did you remove it so quickly from the site while I can see articles much older than that news are still on the site? Is it because of the huge load of comments you were recieving regarding that news? You call yourself independent and this is how you manage your website. You censor the truth and bring the evil things you want to show us on this website. I wont be surprised even you wont print this comment here.
Yamin is smart. The fools in the comittee does not even have the capabilty of questioning such a case. How much of home work have these vakaruge members done? This is pure waste of time. It is only helping Yamin to gain his popularity. This whole thing will end up with humiliation to MDP and its government.
Looks like every in the Junta is greedy and are angry and have touched very hard that the questioned deal profit went someone else pocket instead of his own pocket. Doesn’t look like an investigation for the national security affairs. The people in the banana republic must be licking the lips with hallucination of this dreamed money and everyone must be praying to almighty that he should receive the money if ever claim
He can say what he wants but the general public would not believe what he was saying yesterday and would know who he is.
He can not recall who he travelled with, who is going to believe that. He did not know how 2 of his staff were made as share holders of the Trading Company. The way things were run then, in a very centralized manner, no one including the MD could do anything without Yaamin's knowledge or approval. This is known fact among all those working at STO and Trade Ministry.
This is a man who was on site at Dhonveli Beach when the development was made giving ins ructions to the various Groups - check it out with the Dhiraagu staff who worked on the communications and network. What was his involvement there, was he collecting his dues for the STO loan extended to Olhuveli. Now this also may the doing of the MD !!
Well he must be a very clever businessman, he has stretched the $ 300 k or so they received from his wife's sale of a resort island, he had been able to buy land in Male, develop it, educate their children and live a very posh life. He must have also save a fair amount from that as he still maintains his life style.
Yameen is the truly evil force behind PPM. drunk on power and behind all sorts of nasty goings on in this country. May Allah protect us from this dark force
For me the bottom line is: Yaameen is not guilty. If he is guilty, why would this government drag the case and not produce solid evidence? There is no point in investigating the case by parliamentarians. If the government has the evidence, why are they feeling shy to file a case against Yaameen?
Judging by your fantastic command of the English language, and based on previous comments which I keenly follow- I can discern that you are not limited by naiveté or lack of intelligence.
I have nothing to comment on the article or Mr Yameen (which I haven't addressed to you here previously) . I just would like to congratulate you on the considerable intellectual acrobatics you have employed to defend him. Not everybody is capable of that.
Well nothing unexpected right. One thing you can say about Yameen he is as sly as a fox. He maintained his innocence through out saying he had no idea what was happening and as Chairman he didn't even need to know. he seemed to point the finger a lot at the previous MD of STO. Seems a chairman's job at that time was just to sit in his seat and twiddle his thumbs, yameen would have us beleive.
Yameen is a cunning man, how many of those questioning know what the articles of association of STO states about the role of the Chairman, the article states when STO was formed under a resolution issued by the president that MD shall manage and run the company in consultation with the chairman. How many of them know that evey other day MD Maniku visit trade ministry for consultation, how many of them know how often Yameen calls Muneez regarding the oil matters. Just do your home work, and check the number used by Yameen and the records will show how often he calls the guys at STO. Bring someone who known how to handle these type of questioning, if the right people questioned him Yameen cannot even open his mounth.
God save us and our country from people like Yameen.
Are you perhaps referring to this article http://minivannewsarchive.com/politics/maldives-delegation-forced-to-return-ahead-of-unesco-vote-for-palestinian-membership-says-press-secretary-27771 which is still on the site in the Politics section?
"If the government has the evidence, why are they feeling shy to file a case against Yaameen?"
Most likely because the courts are controlled by the very same person and his puppets they are accusing of pocketing all this money. Look at what's happening in the courts at present. Blatant cases of massive corruption against the old regime have been sitting in limbo for years and they are overshadowed by smaller cases of corruption by MDP MPs in order to take their seats in parliament. The country should be cleansed of all corruption on both sides of the political divide but until there is a real independent judiciary that is no longer controlled by this clan, how can the country move forward?
Is this not the same Yameen who has destroyed a whole generation of the population by allowing drugs to freely flow into the country?
Is it not the same evil crook who is responsible for the gangsterism?
How can this excuse for a human being have an ounce of credibility?
Ths sooner the Gayooms and the puppets and judges that surround them are removed from this country the better for all.
If this guy becomes our President, he would simply say his only duty is to remain as a President enjoying at the Palace.......Wow clever fox
@basher You sound like Musthafa or redwave saleem. If you are so keen on giving justice why dont you talk about the MDP MP who molested his child or Minister Adam Saleem who is a drunk, drugged your girls to have sex at marble guest house. Or the corruptions of this government namely Thilafushi n GMR project. the alchohol bottles found in Reeko Moosa's car...
Quite right, I would rather spin through a flaming hoop to defend someone with half a brain then gung-ho activists with no administrative skill whatsoever.
We honestly do need someone at the helm with some sort of economic vision. I would not mind Thasmeen or even someone else of equal intellect.
You are perfectly right when you imply that antagonism would plague us if we were to choose either side of the yellow-magenta divide. But what can we do? They control the masses. So to get rid of either, we need the other.
The MDP government has failed and threatens to drive this country to oblivion and beyond. Hope you understand my thinking here.
I agree with Ali here. It takes a crook to outsmart one. And besides, most of the questions asked to him were by PPM members were strategically planned questions. They meant to serve no other purpose than to provoke the opposition.
If you looked at it, you'd note that Mahlouf was blatantly doing nothing more than provoking the hell out of everyone there. I laughed, at it. Not that I support him, but that made me laugh.
All I can say is that all is now to be seen by the people. The true face of them are there to be seen.
Hand him (Yameen) over to MNDF and they will make him reveal everything. He has swindled OUR MONEY and we should have it back.
I have to disagree with you there. Handing him over to the police will do no amount of good. Not when there is a 'Remain Silent' right, and certainly not when Judiciary is controlled by the 'old ones'.
It is safe to say that the country and the parliament itself is being manhandled by this regime. No wonder Anni did not file lawsuits againsts Maumoon or anyone else that was still with him.
Despite having solid evidence against Gassan, and it is sad to say that with solid confession on the matter, the son of the old tiger went unpunished.
Nothing can be done of Yameen by handing them over to the police. Not until the Judiciary has been reformed.
By all means, let's all suspend the fundamental freedoms Chapter in the Constitution and run this country through executive control.
Isn't that what we were fighting for all along?
Also let's just disband the judiciary altogether. We all want things to be decided our own way so we'll just duke it out. Meanwhile the government can use all the security forces at its command to lock up whomever they want and force them to talk.
Bring on the water-boarding and the nipple clamps. Democracy - Maldivian style. Served up courtesy of the British Conservative Party.
tsk tsk and others have the right to defend thieves like Yameen; after all, the foundations of the democracy that we'd like to see in this country is built upon the principle of agreeing to disagree.
Personally, I don't think Yameen can add bring any "focus on economic issues" as tsk tsk claims. If I recall, Yameen was in charge of the Trade Ministry in Gayyoom's regime and most of the "trade" that happened seems to have gone to the pockets of the regime.
I do agree that Mohammed Nasheed isn't the spectacular "democrat" that we thought he would be. He seems to have lost his way, and his government is looking more and more like previous regime. Cronyism is rife, and the few sensible voices in there are being drowned by henchmen such as Reeko Moosa and we wouldn't dwell on his intellectual capabilities.
You don't see the occult role the Judiciary is playing in this? Siding with them isn't going to bring any good to the country. It may do good to you.
We witnessed how one-sided the Judiciary is [http://minivannewsarchive.com/politics/police-considering-legality-of-300-arrests-in-wake-of-criminal-courts-release-of-gassan-27470].
It is clearly stated in Article 46 of the constitution that, "No person shall be arrested or detained for an offence unless the arresting officer observes the offence being committed, or has reasonable and probable grounds or evidence to believe the person has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence, or under the authority of an arrest warrant issued by the court."
Somehow.. the Judiciary completely neglected this point in the Article, "or has reasonable and probable grounds or evidence to believe the person has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence,.." and ruled out the arrest of former president's son, Gassan Maumoon. It isn't like the police were without evidence. They had plenty. Hell, they even have a partial confession of Gassan saying he WAS up there at that particular point in time.
Is this what you call "fundamentals freedoms"? I'd rather suspend this and move on.
We seem to agree on just about everything.
1. The choice of who to vote for come 2013 is a matter of personal preference.
2. Nasheed is definitely out of the question.
However, I hope you also understand my point on changing a regime through the power of the popular vote. If push comes to shove and we are required to remove Nasheed in order to distance him and his megalomaniac crew from the Presidency, then we might need to position ourselves behind someone who can bring most of the masses behind him/her. If indeed that someone is Abdulla Yameen then I would support him. Also, contrary to MDP propaganda, some of the then Trade Ministrys policy decisions did reap some benefits for the Maldivian populace as a whole and Yameen is hardly the sole reason for corruption in the Maldives.
As you have so cleanly put it, cronyism and corruption is systemic in this country rather than a matter of ruling personalities. Changing cultural attitudes requires time and effort. Nasheed et. al. were the wrong choice simply because their skill lies in hoodwinks and hijinks. However, an administration needs someone who has experience in knowing how things work at the strategic level. Yameen is not really a bad choice. Neither would be Dr. Munavvar, Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, Dr. Hassan Saeed, Thasmeen or even Go Go Latheef for that matter. However this is not a technocracy and neither is this a meritocracy at the moment. We need someone who can command the love of the masses while being able to rule with authority.
Judiciary cannot be reformed till we have old Gayoom among us. As for Yameen, if we cannot get back our money then at least we should have the pleasure of seeing his ass thrashed by MNDF or Police. Let judiciary later release him.
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